Once you begin to see it you cannot un-see it. Once you begin to pick away at concepts, once you dig deep enough in, it all, ALL begins to fall apart. You see it isn’t just the concept but it is a network of concepts, all connected and linked up, and it all stands or falls according to its alignment. Once you go far enough back, or in, or up, or out – you will begin to see that it all falls apart, at the slightest touch. Look at a cloud, what do you see? You see a bird, but is the cloud a bird? Does your dog see a bird when it looks at the same cloud? Does the newborn child, or the prisoner, locked away for his whole life who has forgotten what a bird looks like, see the bird? No, they do not see the bird, but they may see something else. What does the cloud look like to another cloud? What does the cloud look like to God? Does it look like a trillion water droplets, held together by the very fabric of the universe? You see, we see the image we have constructed, that we have built. Only thing is, is that we have forgotten that we are looking at a canvas, that we are creating the world we see. Not through some spontaneous synthesis or a mirror of nature, or any other constructed human equation that we have dreamed up to try and pacify us, to let us sleep a little easier knowing that we know something. Of course we know! Of course if we are to know we can know ourselves! If there was only one thing we can know it is indeed our own souls, our own minds, our own lives! But alas! we great creatures of knowledge are still unknown to ourselves. Not because we have gotten something wrong, not that we need to go back to the drawing board. No. We are unknown to ourselves because to know, the very idea of knowing, is itself just another image in the clouds.
Why do we take the scholar so seriously? Why is it that in order for us intellectuals to accept something as credible we need to be able to find it in some pretentious journal, with some obnoxious name, published by some annoying institute or program? Why is it that when we see some letters trailing someones name we give to them more credibility than we would a child?
What we need now, more than ever, is to come to the realization that knowledge is anywhere we seek it – that our ‘experts’ and our ‘authorities’ that we have accepted and deemed authoritative and credible. Credibility is a gift we give – it is bestowed. Shall we be more charitable? Or shall we continue to give only to those few who dedicate their lives to intricate little puzzles, little riddles that have abstracted so far away from life that they have lost sight of this world completely?
‘Look! they insist on dividing everything into nice little sides: one on this side, one on that side. Left and right, boy and girl, night and day, tall and short, big and small, real and un-real, scientific and artistic, right and wrong, heaven and hell, good and bad, alive and dead… but they have forgotten that they were the ones who drew the lines in the first place. They themselves set the boundaries, and now they approach them as if they were walls, too high to scale, too thick to knock down. So they walk along them, groping through a maze that they themselves built, amongst walls so thin and so frail that all they need to do find the courage to step through them. They believe in their own truth, but have made that truth the Truth. How sad to see that they limit themselves so.’
As summer begins I embark on three separate projects. This blog is largely intended to be a way of journaling and organizing my thoughts around them, but as collateral damage those thoughts will be shared with the few of you who will find this page, and perhaps even glance at it for a moment. Knowing that your glance is always a possibility, I will be forced to polish my writing, to consciously create and build up my thoughts so that they are presentable and coherent. Essentially I am submitting to the Panopticon. I think this is a good thing but I cannot be sure.
The first project is my independent study, funded by the City College Fellowship, for the duration of 12 weeks. I will be covering and writing on key texts in queer studies and the philosophy of sex. My primary goal is to acquaint myself with the foundational texts in these fields so that I can open myself up to future, more specialized research. A secondary hope is to produce a quality writing sample for graduate school applications in the fall. You can find a separate page entitled ‘Summer’ above, which I will regularly update with my progress.
The second project revolves around Nietzsche, and is already partly complete. This past semester I undertook an independent study with Prof. Nick Pappas which focused entirely on close readings of Nietzsche’s key texts: Birth of Tragedy, The Gay Science, Thus Spoke Zarathustra, Beyond Good and Evil, Genealogy of Morals and Ecce Homo. Over the course of the next few weeks I will be finishing up my work on Beyond Good and Evil and Ecce Homo and will continue to polish my observations on Nietzsche’s work as a whole.
The third project will be centered on the idea of reading and reviewing fiction and film. This will mostly come by way of horror pieces, but it is also possible that I will do an overarching review on Lemony Snickett’s A Series of Unfortunate Events – which I am currently working my way through – and possible some Kubrick films as well. My hope is to bring philosophical insight to these works that typically exist outside of the intellectual mainstream. (This will also eventually include a critical essay on The Real Housewives, which is in progress.) Plus critiquing pop culture is always fun, right?
Can hear my soft murmurs, bouncing off cliff sides and sheets of ice, whispering tired ideas and half thought out truths? Can you hear me over the rush of the violent streams and the blasting winds? Can you hear me through half-open windows and the sounds of frantic traffic? Can you hear me mumbling behind the crowds of excited voices, over all the shouting and flailing?
I speak softly, seeking no ears. I carry with me both truth and untruth, and these things can only be whispered.
‘I caught this insight on the way and quickly seized the rather poor words that were closest to hand to pin it down lest it fly away again. And now it has died of these arid words and shakes and flaps in them – and I hardly know any more when I look at it how I could ever have felt so happy when I caught this bird.’
-Friedrich Nietzsche, The Gay Science 298